BHP says traditional owners free to weigh in on cultural heritage inquiry – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – September 16, 2020)

Mining giant BHP (ASX, LON, NYSE: BHP) has told Australian Aboriginal groups to freely speak their mind about the way it manages cultural heritage as the miner readies to appear before a federal inquiry launched following rival Rio Tinto’s (ASX, LON, NYSE: RIO) destruction of two 46,000-year-old sacred shelters.

Both companies have been criticized for having gag clauses in land agreements preventing traditional owners from publicly objecting to developments.

“BHP has confirmed to traditional owners that it does not regard any term of its agreements with them as preventing them from making public statements about cultural heritage concerns,” it said in the statement.

“If any provision in BHP’s agreements can be regarded as having this effect, then BHP will not enforce that clause.” The Melbourne-based also noted it had “strong existing internal processes” in place to ensure that if new information arises that changes the heritage significance of a site, that is taken into account in decisions relating to the place.

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